Letter


British Dental Journal 220, 219 (2016)
Published online: 11 March 2016 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2016.155

Dental education: Too many graduates in India

Srinivasan Raj Samuel1

Send your letters to the Editor, British Dental Journal, 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS e-mail: bdj@bda.org. Priority will be given to letters less than 500 words long. Authors must sign the letter, which may be edited for reasons of space. Readers may now comment on letters via the BDJ website (www.bdj.co.uk). A 'Readers' Comments' section appears at the end of the full text of each letter online.

Sir, gone are the days when the dental profession in India was considered elite and luxurious. The present scenario is very gloomy because of the greater number of dental graduates added each year (approximately 30,000)1 to the already existing workforce without many career prospects. Presently 310 dental colleges exist in India2 and the majority have an intake of 100 students per year. The bulk of the fresh dental graduates pursue the dream of a clinic, the next majority opts for postgraduate study, and a few aspire to clear the board requirements of a foreign country and become certified dentists.

A fledgling dentist in India has very limited scope to survive on his own immediately after graduation. The cut-throat competition among fellow dentists has escalated to unprecedented levels and a sense of insecurity seeps into fresh graduates. The recent threat to private practice is the rapid surge of corporate dentistry and the blistering pace at which they grow and multiply, making it almost impossible for a recent graduate to make an independent living. We conducted an informal survey among recent graduates and the majority (76%) reported working an average of ten hours per day even on weekends for 200 to 300 dollars a month and it appears as if new dental graduates are the most exploited workforce. The few who pursue postgraduate studies find it difficult to get into a specialty of their choice since only 3,000 seats exist.3 Moreover, it's a trend among the of majority private institutions to levy huge capitations to procure admission and the scarcity of government college seats compel many to pay a fortune. Finally after postgraduation, they end up with the same career choice as an undergraduate because of the lack of new opportunities and 'survival of the fittest' competition. There seems absolutely no regulation by the dental council to limit the number of dental graduates and the level of unemployment increases because supply surpasses the demand. It is estimated that there will be a surplus of more than 100,000 dentists in India by 2020.3

The current scenario poses a serious threat to the professional integrity of fresh dental graduates and the percentage of dentists committing suicide is on the rise; the main reasons being unemployment and a sense of hopelessness.4 It is high time for the dental council and government of India to take all necessary steps to improve the condition of dentistry and dentists of this nation before hope deteriorates completely.

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References

  1. Vundavalli S . Dental manpower planning in India: current scenario and future projections for the year 2020. Int Dent J 2014; 64: 62–67. | Article | PubMed |
  2. Database of Dental Council of India. Available at: http://www.dciindia.org/search.aspx (accessed March 2016).
  3. Jain H , Agarwal A . Current scenario and crisis facing dental college graduates in India. J Clin Diagn Res 2012; 6: 1–4. | Article |
  4. Dagli N , Dagli R . Increasing unemployment among Indian dental graduates – high time to control dental manpower. J Int Oral Health 2015; 7: i–ii. | PubMed |
  1. Thai Moogambigai Dental College, India

Readers' Comments

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  1. #67721
    Date:
    2016-03-15 02:22 AM
    Nakul Uppal said:

    Dr Samuel's frank letter "Dental education: Too many graduates in India" correctly identifies a major challenge facing dentistry in India. However, it highlights a problem that is not unique to dentistry. Several management institutes in India, unable to fill seats, have shut down. And an estimated 80% of Indian engineering graduates "lack employable skills". The dental crisis of over-saturation, it would seem, reflects a greater peril of the Indian higher education system.

    An important reason for this crisis in Indian dentistry is the clustering of clinics in urban areas. A possible solution to this problem may lie in India's rural areas.

    If Prime Minister Modi's "Rurban Mission" with its 14-point agenda to reduce migration to cities, skill and empower citizens in rural areas and create growth in rural economies does indeed work, then India's huge workforce of dentists can be turned into a tremendous asset to rural health centres. Making available basic oral health services in India's vast rural hinterland will serve the triple purpose of 1) reducing loss of man-hours traveling to urban dental clinics, 2) improving early access to dental treatment before symptoms worsen and 3) generating employment for dentists.

    I do not disagree with the author's bleak view of dental education, but we must at the same time find creative solutions to correct the skew in demand-versus-supply. I also wonder whether other nations have grappled with a similar problem of "too many dental graduates".

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